Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Black Spinetail (Telacanthura melanopygia)


French: Martinet de Chapin German: Iturisegler Spanish: Vencejo del Ituri
Other common names: Black Spine-tailed Swift

Chætura melanopygia


, 1915,

Avakubi, Ituri District, DRCongo




SE Sierra Leone E to S Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and N Congo. Recorded also in SW Central African Republic, NE DRCongo and NE Angola.

Descriptive notes

15–17 cm; 52 g. Large, slender spinetail with long wings, typical hooked outer primaries, bulging inner primaries and outer secondaries, pinched in at body; prominent... read more


Three main vocalizations, all of them considered loud and harsh (like teeth being gnashed): a... read more


Rainforest zone over a variety of habitats, including primary and secondary forest, plantations and... read more

Food and feeding

Winged ants reported from one stomach. Generally a low-elevation feeder that freely associates with other swifts, e.g. Apus apus,... read more


Largely unknown. Enlarged gonads in Ghana in Feb, and DRCongo in Oct; entering tree hollows in Liberia late Dec to mid-Mar, where aerial... read more


Generally considered resident. Some authors have suggested that this may be an Afrotropical migrant... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally uncommon to rare throughout, but believed to occur more widely than present knowledge indicates, and certainly overlooked. Some evidence that... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black Spinetail (Telacanthura melanopygia). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).